PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In January of 2011, Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby suffered two hits in five days, keeping him out of the team’s lineup for the next 14 months and counting.
Around the same time Penguins’ General Manager Ray Shero saw his best player suffer a concussion, he also saw his own son suffer one as well.
“Jan. 15, 2011,” Chris Shero recalls. “We were playing out in L.A. and I got hit.”
Shero, 16, didn’t know it at the time, but he had suffered a concussion that would keep him out for the next five months.
“I wasn’t there,” the Penguins’ general manager said. “My wife was there, and it’s one of those things, they get hit. It wasn’t that hard of a hit, and he played a few more games and got hit again.”
The plights of Chris Shero and Sidney Crosby have paralleled at times over the last year, and even brought the two together, in an unfortunate concussion connection, to compare notes.
“We talked back and forth on how everything was when I had my concussion and when he had his,” Chris said. “We talked about how things were. We were able to relate to each other so much easier with that. He helped me and maybe I helped him a little bit.”
“It’s nice when someone can relate no matter what age,” Crosby said. “Even for him to hear what I was going through was good for him. To see someone who can’t go to school and can’t be with his friends, I think it was good for me to get a different viewpoint on it.”
“And that’s what happens,” Ray Shero told KDKA-TV. “You compare, whether it’s teammate to teammate, or in Chris’ case, being around those guys. Sid was really helpful for Chris, too.”
Now, the elder Shero is looking to USA Hockey, youth hockey’s governing body, to try and stem the tide of concussions in the younger ranks, so incidents like Chris’ can be avoided.
“At the end of the game sometimes… it’s not even if your kid won or lost or if they scored a goal,” said Shero. “It’s: ‘Are you ok.’
“I sent something to USA Hockey where I really believe rules for majors for elbowing and hits from behind have to be dealt with more severely in terms of supplemental discipline as we have in our league, where a kid is going miss more than one game, maybe two or three games, before he’s allowed back to play,” he added.
Shero was also instrumental in getting a baseline test for local high school hockey players so future concussions can be more easily diagnosed. But the problem Chris went through is not an isolated case, and prevention can only go so far.